Written by David Robinson
Watford’s new boss Walter Mazzarri has been handed a very tough set of opening fixtures to open up his reign at Vicarage Road. The Hornets face Southampton away on the opening day before hosting Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all in the first 5 games. (See full fixture list here). While every team ultimately plays the same fixtures over the season, I look into how much Watford fans can look into the fixtures and what impact it could have for the season.
A change in fortunes
The Italian will have to change fortunes compared to last season where Watford took just 1 win from 10 games against the Golden Boys first 5 opponents this term. Frustratingly Quique Sanchez Flores’s men matched the ‘top sides’ all the way in most games but left with little reward to show for their efforts. I don’t think it was any coincidence to see late defeats to Tottenham, Man Utd and Man City where Deeney and co. left everything out on the pitch but lost 2-1 on each occasion. As undeserved as each of those defeats were, I believe it did tell us that the side struggled with fitness. The goals conceded all had aspects of a loss of concentration and the side will have to be able to stay firm for 90+ minutes next campaign. You could feel the side slowly deteriorate as the game came to a close to despite putting in good performances, it all counted for nothing.
On paper, Watford should be looking at gaining 0 points in their opening 5 games meaning there should be a sense of freedom about the side however I believe this is not the case. Mazzarri must pick up some form of points in these games relieving some early pressure off his shoulders. A poor start could set the tone for the season which could be bad news for the former Inter Milan manager. Looking beyond the first 5 fixtures sees Watford travel to Burnley and Middlesbrough in the opening 10 games. This would appear to be a favourable set of games for Watford however fans should know far to well that the promoted teams will be eyeing Mazzarri’s men as a big opportunity for 3 points with a buoyant set up about both clubs which should make for another couple of hard games early on. Going into these games with points in the bank is vital meaning early pressure needs to be lifted.
It’s worth noting that Flores guided the Hertfordshire club to a 13th place finish last season and relegation battles will not even be on the minds of the Pozzo family this campaign. So who knows how Watford’s season will be looking with 5 games to go. Regardless of the position in the league, the club do have a tricky last 5 games of the season with the Hornets at home to Man City on the final day. Prior to this Watford will face both Everton and Leicester away which you can only suspect will be very hard games. While I do believe you certainly can’t read an awful lot into last set of fixtures when a ball hasn’t been kicked, you have to give it some note with a good position entering these last 5 fixtures key whether that be ahead of a relegation scrap or a Europa League push, who knows.
Watford fans, what do you make of the fixture list? Should much be read into it? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image:Anders Henrikson